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Entries in Food (76)

Saturday
Feb022013

Super Bowl Indulgence? Start Walking

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Your waistline was just shrinking back to normal after the holidays and now along comes the Super Bowl.

According to the Calorie Control Council and the Snack Food Association, armchair quarterbacks scarf down 30 million pounds of snacks on Super Bowl Sunday including 11.2 million potato chips, 8.2 million pounds of tortilla chips, 4.3 million pounds of pretzels, 3.8 million pounds of popcorn, and 2.5 million pounds of nuts.

Add in the beer, pizza, hot wings and anything else with calories fans can get their hands on and the average spectator consumes 1,200 calories and 50 grams of fat as part of their pigskin celebration, the Council found.

Let’s put it in perspective. Say you’re a 49ers fan. You decide to inhale a huge plate of chicken wings smothered with cool ranch dressing. That’ll set you back somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,500 calories. To burn that off, get ready to hoof it from San Fran’s Chinatown to the Golden Gate Bridge, according to the website Hopstop.com – a distance of about five miles.

If you’re a Ravens fan who devours a slice of pepperoni pizza, you’ll have 400 extra calories to deal with.  To burn those off, you’ll need to walk the equivalent of the distance between Baltimore’s Fort McHenry and the Washington Monument. Actually, plan on making the trip between those land marks at least three times. Who stops at one slice?

Registered dietitian Jennifer Neily said when your eyes are glued to the game, you’re often blind to what you’re putting in your mouth. She finds that people are often surprised when they realize how many calories they put away in the time it takes to play four quarters, and horrified when they learn how long it takes to burn them off.

But Neily said so long as you don’t eat like it’s Super Bowl Sunday every day, you should be fine. She looks at it like this,” It’s one meal, one day. That’s not going to make or break you.”

To dial down the game day calorie count, Neily advised eating a small meal before the kick off so you’re not ravenous as the game gets underway. Alternate alcoholic and sugary beverages with water or seltzer so you don’t drown yourself in excess calories. Scan the table before filling your plate so you can eat only what you really want. And set a time to stop eating completely — half time works — and then stick with it.

If you do overdo game day calories, Neily advised getting right back on track the next day with a sensible diet and some moderate intensity exercise. That goes double if your team loses. What’s the point in drowning your sorrows in a bowl of nachos? There’s always next year.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jan042013

New Computers Aim to Tackle Taste Buds

IBM(NEW YORK) -- The future of food might not be in the kitchen.  Thanks to research at IBM, the future of food could very well be controlled by your computer.

“In five years, computers will be able to construct never-before-heard-of recipes to delight palates -- even those with health or dietary constraints -- using foods’ molecular structure,” says Dr. Lav Varshney, a research scientist for IBM, in a new video for the company’s annual 5 in 5 campaign. 

This year’s campaign focuses on the five senses and a new era of computers based on cognitive systems.

Varshney chose to work with food because, “It’s so visceral, it’s part of who we are.  Everyone eats."

He and his six-person team, which includes a chef-turned-computer engineer, are working to design recipes that predict unexpected flavor combinations that taste delicious.

The goal of the program is to “design food that tastes good that is flavorful but is also healthy,” he said.  “We’ve been using some ideas from culinary science and chemistry as well as psychology.”

The system looks to foods, such as strawberries, white wine or cooked apples, that are generally perceived as pleasant.

They use the flavor-pairing hypothesis to match flavors like black tea and bell peppers.  The hypothesis is the idea that “in two ingredients that share a lot of flavor compounds, chemicals that make up the food, they typically go together in western cuisine.”

They hope to create more flavorful lunch meals for kids who generally skip their sandwich and opt for dessert.

“Various governments have imposed a lot of nutritional standards, school lunches have to meet these very stringent requirements and kids end up throwing away the food,” said Varshney.

It would also improve food options in hospitals and nursing homes as well as provide tasty recipes for those with food restrictions like food allergies.

But the system isn’t as simple as an app that would select random combinations.  The team is also taking into consideration how the food looks.  Creating recipes that have never been made before has required a bit of testing.

Varshney hopes that the machine will eventually be “Good enough that you can predict without testing.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Nov302012

Bread That Lasts Months?

Hemera/Thinkstock(LUBBOCK, Texas) -- The company Microzap says it has found a way to keep bread free of mold for two months, according to the BBC.

The company zaps the bread using a microwave array that kills the spores that create mold. While it all sounds a bit technical, the company also claims the patent-pending process can be completed without damaging the quality of the food.

The hope is that the technology, which can also be used on other foods and even pet treats, will dramatically reduce the amount of food that is wasted. Additionally, Microzap researchers say the technology can be used in food processing plants to reduce the occurrence of salmonella contamination.

As for the future, Microzap is currently working on developing a process to treat homes and hotels infested with bed bugs.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Oct262012

Adult Picky Eater Will Only Consume Three Kinds of Food

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Marla Lopez is 54, but eats like a toddler.

She has never eaten a piece of fruit or tried a green vegetable.  For as long as she can remember, her daily diet has consisted primarily of three kinds of foods: milk (and ice cream); white breads (including crackers, tortillas and pancakes); and potatoes (including chips and French fries).

Sometimes she’ll also eat bacon.

Lopez said her picky eating started as an infant.  She would gag on her baby food.  Foods that many people would consider mouth-watering -- an omelet or a sandwich -- are now repulsive to her.  Touching spaghetti is also out of the question.

ABC's Good Morning America correspondent Linsey Davis went shopping with Lopez at a Fairway Market in New York City.  Not much made it into the cart.

Asked whether she’d consider items in the produce aisle, Lopez said, “When I look at this, I don’t see food.”

Her favorite food is potato chips, she said, adding that they were “so salty, and fresh, and potato-y.  I love them.”

Lopez, a mother herself, acknowledged that her preferred foods were limited but added, “I do love what I eat and enjoy it.”

As for whether her eating habits are more a simple desire for junk food than a real disorder, Lopez said, “I’ve heard that all my life, all my life.  It’s really embarrassing.”

Nancy Zucker, the director of the Center for Eating Disorders at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., says Lopez  is not alone.

“We don’t quite understand what adult picky eating is … but what we do know is that there is a real biological struggle going on that’s not all in their heads,” said Zucker, who studies picky eaters.

Lopez is often compelled to hide her eating habits when she’s at parties.  She’ll say she already ate, or she’ll just carry around a drink.

Despite her carb-heavy, vegetable-free diet, Lopez says she is healthy.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct152012

Food Swap for Less Salt: How to Make Healthier Kids’ Lunches, Snacks

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- If you’re a label reader, here is a nutrition fact you don’t want to miss. It’s not just calories, fat and sugar you should be checking. Another culprit assaulting our diets is sodium -- and it can be found in just about everything.

A new study shows that children and teens in the United States on average are taking in as much sodium as adults. Since kids’ bodies are smaller, consuming that much sodium each day could mean major health problems when they grow up.

Registered dietician Cynthia Sass worked with Nightline to compare the sodium content in kids’ lunches and snacks. Here’s a breakdown and suggestions on what you can do to make healthier lunches and snacks for you and your family.

[TAKE THE QUIZ: Which Product Has More Sodium?]

LUNCH: Instead of deli-sliced turkey on white bread with American cheese and mayo:

  • 3 oz deli oven roasted turkey -- 420 mg sodium
  • 2 slices white Wonder bread -- 300 mg sodium
  • 1 slice Kraft American cheese -- 200 mg sodium
  • 1 Tbsp Hellman’s mayo -- 90 mg sodium

TOTAL: 1,010 mg sodium

Try grilled chicken breast with Swiss cheese on an English muffin with mustard:

  • 3 oz baked or grilled chicken breast -- 75 mg sodium
  • 1 honey wheat Thomas’ English muffin -- 180 mg sodium
  • 1 slice baby Swiss cheese -- 35 mg sodium
  • 1 tsp French’s yellow mustard -- 55 mg sodium

TOTAL: 345 mg sodium -- a difference of 665 mg sodium

Also consider trying this fresh food lunch recipe as an option:

Turkey Taco Boats

  • ¼ cup red bell pepper, chopped
  • ¼ cup onion, chopped
  • ¼ cup low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 4 large outer Romaine leaves
  • 3 oz cooked extra lean ground turkey
  • ½ cup fresh or frozen, thawed organic sweet corn or kernels sliced from 1 medium ear of fresh roasted organic corn
  • 4 lime wedges
  • ½ cup salsa
  • ¼ of a medium avocado, sliced

On stovetop over medium heat, sauté peppers and onions in broth until tender, set aside. Mix cilantro into ground turkey. Fill each Romaine leaf with turkey, then corn and squeeze with fresh lime. Top with salsa, sautéed vegetables and avocado and serve.

Sodium total: 386 mg

SNACKS: Instead of Cheetos and Oreo cookies:

  • 1 single serving snack bag of Cheetos -- 290 mg sodium
  • 1 Oreo cookie from a 12-pack single serve -- 240 mg sodium

TOTAL: 530 mg sodium

Try plain Lay’s potato chips and Hershey kisses:

  • 1 single serving bag of regular Lay’s potato chips -- 180 mg sodium
  • 9 Hershey kisses -- 35 mg sodium

TOTAL: 215 mg sodium -- a different of 315 mg sodium

Also consider trying this fresh food snack recipe as an option:

Vanilla Almond Frozen Banana

  • 6 oz fat free organic yogurt
  • Seeds from 1 small vanilla bean or 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 small banana peeled, not sliced
  • ¼ cup rolled oats (raw or toasted on a cookie sheet)
  • 2 Tbsp sliced or chopped almonds

Stir vanilla into yogurt. Dip banana into yogurt or spoon yogurt over banana to coat thoroughly. Mix oats and almonds. Sprinkle banana with nut mixture, wrap in wax paper and freeze at least 20 minutes.    

Sodium total: 120 mg

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct082012

Foodie Alert: How Palate Cleansers Work on ‘Fatty Mouth’

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- “Red wine with red meat,” or so the old adage goes. Now new findings may help us better understand how palate cleansers like wine or tea refresh our mouths between courses.

A study, published on Monday in Current Biology, enlisted 21 volunteers to rate the feelings in their mouth after repeatedly sipping either tea or water while eating salami.

When subjects ate fatty food, they experienced a “fatty mouth feel” -- a sensation that their mouths felt slippery or coated, said senior author of the study, Paul A.S. Breslin, a professor of nutritional sciences at Rutgers University and member of the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia.

“If they are sipping tea while they eat this meat, then that tea helped bring the ‘fatty mouth feel’ back down again, more so when compared to sipping just water,” he said.

These findings show that sipping an astringent beverage can counteract the oral sensation of fatty foods during a meal.

Palate cleansers feel astringent or dry in our mouths because they contain compounds that break down the lubricating proteins in our saliva, Breslin said. This is what allows them to provide a sensation of cleanness in our mouths by removing after-tastes and fatty mouth-coating sensations.

“If you notice how we eat fatty foods in general, we tend to pair them with something astringent,” Breslin said. “They go together because they balance each other out."

“This is a principle in cuisines throughout the world.”

One nutrition expert not involved with the study agreed.

“The process of dining involves a back and forth interplay of astringency and fat,” said Dr. Jana Klauer, a New York City-based physician who specializes in nutrition, “The French have long known this.”

In a typical French meal, she explained, you consume an aperitif -- which is astringent -- then a creamy soup, then a main course with some fat balanced with an astringent wine, then a palate-cleansing sorbet, and lastly, a dessert containing fat.

So food-lovers around the globe may have another reason to rejoice.  Whether you consume a juicy steak with red wine, salad dressing containing oil and vinegar, or sushi with a side of ginger, these and other complementary pairings of fat and astringency may be good for our bodies, Breslin said.

“This natural tendency for seeking balance in our mouths might have benefits for maintaining a diversity of foods in our diet.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Sep252012

Americans Pick Their Favorite Salty Snacks

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The heck with hypertension, Americans love their salty snacks and the number one treat, according to a brand recognition survey by YouGov BrandIndex, is Ritz Crackers.

It's the second year in a row that the Nabisco product, a favorite since the 1930’s, has topped the list with an overall favorability rating of 55.2, just a smidgen higher than in 2011.

Trailing Ritz in second place is Lay’s Potato Chips while Doritos Tortilla Chips and Fritos Corn Chips, each made by Frito-Lay’s, finished third and fourth. Here’s the top ten:

1. Ritz
2. Lay's
3. Doritos
4. Fritos
5. Orville Redenbacher Popcorn
6. Wheat Thins
7. Tostitos
8. Cheetos
9. Pringles
10. Triscuit

YouGov conducted its survey of 1.5 million adults ages 18 and above by asking the question, “Do you have a general positive feeling about the brand?” and using scores of 100 through minus 100 with negative feedback subtracted from positive responses.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug212012

Lawyer Who Beat Big Tobacco Targets Food Industry

Jupiterimages/Pixland/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A Mississippi lawyer who landed a multimillion dollar settlement from "big tobacco" is taking on the food industry, claiming some food makers mislead consumers about their products' health effects.

Don Barrett, a trial lawyer from Lexington, Miss., said his firm has filed 27 cases and counting, hoping to quickly whip another "deceptive" industry into shape.

"The food industry has realized that the [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] has no teeth," said Barrett, arguing that FDA rules that prohibit food misbranding are routinely broken. "You can't use euphemisms and you can't disguise ingredients by calling them something people can't understand. If you do, your product's misbranded. And if it's misbranded, it's illegal to sell it."

Barrett -- a relative newcomer to the world of food industry fraud, having filed his first case in April -- is drawing on his past battles with tobacco companies. In 1998 he was part of a major legal victory over the tobacco industry.

"The health claims they made for tobacco, and the denials they made about it being bad for you, they affected people's health," he said. "Perhaps the food industry doesn't affect people's health as directly, but people have the right to know what they're getting."

More than a third of American adults are obese, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And obesity-related conditions like diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers are among the country's top killers.

"The three major determinants of all our ills are tobacco, poor diet and lack of physical activity," said Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center. "And there's no question the problem of poor diet has been aided and abetted by those profiting from the status quo."

Katz said some food companies blatantly trick consumers into thinking a product is healthier or more natural than the competition's. He cited a jam-maker that listed apricots as the first ingredient by using five different forms of sugar -- so that it would not be required to put any one of them at the top of the list.

"You have to list the ingredients in the order of abundance, and there was more apricot than any one type of sugar," said Katz, adding that, generally, "the shorter the ingredient list, the better."

But some companies use different names for ingredients that might be perceived as unhealthy, according to Barrett, who recently sued the Greek yogurt maker Chobani for calling sugar "evaporated cane juice."

"It's so deceptive that it's really kind of funny. But it ain't funny if you're a mother whose child has juvenile diabetes," said Barrett. "It's a crime to misbrand food in that way, so we want them to quit selling it and pay everyone back."

Calls to Chobani were not immediately returned.

The slew of suits from Barrett and other trial lawyers targeting "big food" are a welcome boost for food industry watchdogs like the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

"We need all the help we can get," said Stephen Gardner, the center's director of litigation.

Gardner has filed suits against Splenda Essentials and Nature Valley granola bars, alleging the high-priced products fall short of their health claims.

"Companies consider the consumer responsible for checking out all the facts; for assuming the ads they're seeing are lies," he said. He pointed out that "natural" Nature Valley granola bars contain maltodextrin -- a chemical that's "fresh from the factory."

"The 'natural' claim is a good example of something that may or may not matter to a food scientist, but it does matter to the consumer," he said.

But Gardner said the comparison between "big food" and "big tobacco" is a little far-fetched.

"All tobacco companies are evil killers of human beings, but there are a whole lot of food companies that sell food that's good for you," he said. "And even that stuff that's bad for you isn't going to kill you if you consume it in moderation. ...That's not to say I don't welcome people who had the skills and inventiveness to bring tobacco to its knees."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul272012

Is the Five-Second Rule Fact or Myth?

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Myth-Busters are back at it Friday night, shattering one more widely held belief. Did you ever hear about the so-called "five-second rule?"

It turns out the rule that says that food that is dropped on the floor is safe to eat if picked up within five seconds is a myth. Dr. Jorge Parada, medical director of the Loyola University Health System in Illinois, says that food dropped on the floor is contaminated immediately and cannot be sanitized.

Dr. Parada adds, though, that the amount and type of bacteria picked up depends on the object that is dropped and on what type of surface it falls. Some objects attract microbes more easily than others, he says, according to Health24. For example, Parada notes, a potato chip that falls on a table top that is fairly clean for a short second is less likely to spread bacteria than one that falls on the floor and is left there for a while.  Loyola adds that hard candy, too, is less likely to become contaminated than a slice of cheese.

Still, it is better to err on the side of caution and refrain from eating food under the five-second rule. Instead, Parada suggests a new rule: When in doubt, throw it out.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul102012

Want to Lose Weight? Cut Up Your Food

Polka Dot/Thinkstock(ZURICH, Switzerland) -- If you're looking to cut calories, you might start by cutting your food into smaller pieces. So suggests a study reported Tuesday in Zurich, Switzerland, at the international conference for the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior.

Arizona State University researchers gave 301 hungry college students either a whole bagel or the same bagel cut into four separate pieces. Twenty minutes later, both groups of students were treated to a free lunch.

What the researchers found was that the college students in both groups ended up eating roughly the same amount of each bagel; however the students that ate the bagel cut in four pieces ate roughly 25 percent less of their free lunch than the students who ate the uncut bagel.

The phenomenon appeared to hold true in animals as well. As part of the same study, the researchers also found that when hungry rats were given a choice to look for food either as a single large pellet or 30 small pellets, the rats ran faster and more frequently to the small pellets.

"Cutting up energy-dense meal foods into smaller pieces may be beneficial to dieters who wish to make their meal more satiating while also maintaining portion control," lead study author Devina Wadhera said in a news release.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio